Research carried out in Sweden suggests that family stress in early life does not cause childhood coeliac disease although it has previously been associated with several immunological diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease. Data were collected when the child was 1 and 2.5 years old in some 11,000 and 8,800 children, respectively. CD was confirmed through small intestinal biopsy (with villous atrophy), and the diagnosis was validated through patient chart data. Serious life events, parenting stress, and parental worries were used as measures of psychological stress.
Serious life event in the family in the child's first 1 or 2.5 years after childbirth was not associated with future CD in the child. Nor was any association seen between CD and parenting stress at age 1 year and at 2.5 years. Among children exposed to parental worries at 2.5 years, no child had a diagnosis of CD before end of follow-up. There was no association between the combined measures of stress and CD.
The researchers therefore concluded that there was no association between psychological stress and later development of CD in Swedish children but they could not rule out that the lack of such an association is due to limited statistical power.
Psychological stress and coeliac disease in childhood: a cohort study BMC Gastroenterology 2010, 10:106
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